We all want to eat better, but are we making the right choices? Anyone who cares about health knows they shouldn’t eat junk food all day, but even if you think you’re making good choices, it’s not always easy.
The increasingly dominant villain of nutrition is ultra-processed food. You’ll be familiar with these products: well-packaged, tempting and easy to eat, and seemingly good value for money.
It’s food you can’t make at home from raw ingredients, with additives you can’t find in stores – and it’s very addictive.
But avoiding the most obvious examples of UPF isn’t all you need to do. Choosing supposedly healthy options such as high-protein snacks, vegan meat alternatives, and low-fat dairy means you risk consuming less nutritious foods.
Often these products are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates or fat – sometimes all three – and contain ingredients manipulated to have a long shelf life.
If you’re short on time, it’s easy to go to the supermarket and not read beyond the health claims on the front of the package. With so much attention given to plant-based foods – apparently better for us and for the planet – vegan alternatives are particularly important right now, but they usually contain up to a dozen ingredients, in something advertised as ” natural “.
Not all processed foods are created equal, of course. Baked beans fall into the UPF category, but if you find a brand low in salt and sugar, fiber and protein are helpful. Fruit juices are not UPF, but in the juicing process vital fiber is lost, so it is best to use frozen fruit.
The products below may seem healthy, but we’ve read the labels for you. Although it’s unrealistic to imagine that we can eliminate all traces of UPF from our diet, by making a few simple swaps we can significantly reduce them.
How to Spot Ultra-Processed Foods
Check the ingredient label. Does it include things you can’t buy in a supermarket? Modified starch, maltodextrin, potassium chloride, antioxidants, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids? So avoid.
But even that is not infallible. Increasingly, manufacturers are looking for what they call “clean label” – appearing to use fewer, more natural ingredients, and mislead consumers by using additives with names we might confuse with usability.
Industry supplier websites are full of “clean labeling solutions” and some manufacturers are much more concerned with the beauty of the ingredient list than the fact that the product is healthy.
For example, “modified starch” is replaced with “modified corn flour” and “antioxidant” with “rosemary extract” (actually a deodorized derivative that bears little relation to real grass). So be wary: if it’s not clearly the whole ingredient, it’s probably an industrial additive.
Healthy products to avoid eating
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This notice was published: 2022-03-21 17:39:42